Shelley Wachsmann/Israel Antiquities Authority

The tip-off. While diving in the Mediterranean, Kibbutz Ma’agan Micha’el member Ami Eshel noticed in water less than 6 feet deep a pile of stones and pieces of wood like those shown here. Eshel immediately wondered if he had stumbled upon an ancient shipwreck; he alerted members of the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Center for Maritime Studies at the University of Haifa; they confirmed his hunch and authorized further exploration of the find.

The stones that had been aboard the ship, some of them weighing more than 100 pounds, had served as ballast. After visiting various sites where the ballast may have originated, the investigators believe the rocks may have come from the Greek islands or Crete, or possibly Cyprus. Those sites may also have been the embarkation point of the Ma’agan Micha’el ship, though it is possible that the vessel had set sail from elsewhere and had picked up its ballast from another ship.